The Grays Harbor College Class of 2019 and the outstanding student and faculty award recipients were honored during the college’s 89th commencement ceremony at Stewart Field in Aberdeen on Friday evening.
As part of GHC’s largest graduating class, close to 200 students received diplomas. The college awardeded 433 diplomas in all.
College President Dr. James Minkler addressed the students and the hundreds of family and friends in the stands, at one point urging the students to rise, find those who supported them in the bleachers and applaud them to show their gratitude.
Minkler then introduced Aberdeen Police Chief Steve Shumate, a 1990 Grays Harbor College graduate, who delivered this year’s address to the graduates. He shared a deeply personal and passionate tale of his own journey from Montesano High School to mill worker at Weyerhaeuser to husband, father, student, Sheriff’s Deputy and eventually Aberdeen Chief of Police.
Honored during the ceremony were the 2019 Outstanding Student Award recipient Mary Valentine and Faculty of the Year Award winner Melanie Israel.
Valentine was introduced by Tony Garcia, associate director of the college’s TRIO program. Valentine studied marine biology and has been selected to present her Hood Canal Research with Wildfish Conservancy at the University of Washington Symposium. She also was selected for a competitive research experience for undergraduates at Western Washington University and will spend the summer in the San Juan Islands at Shannon Point Marine Center.
Israel was introduced by Taylor Miller, Associated Students of Grays Harbor College president. Israel, of the business management department, was described as the kind of instructor who went above and beyond the normal scope of an educator to help her students achieve.
The college’s first-ever graduating class to earn a Bachelor in Applied Science degree was up first to receive diplomas, including five in forest resources management and 21 in teacher education. Other firsts included the 12 students graduating the Associate of Applied Science for medical assistant program, and the 18 Associate in Applied Science degrees in business management awarded to qualifying graduates at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.